The syntax of existential sentences in Serbian
Jutta M. Hartmann
- Freeze (1992) argued on the basis of data from several different languages that there is a close relationship between existential sentences (stating the existence of an entity) and locative sentences (stating the location of an entity). Freeze (1992) proposes that they are both derived from the same base structure and that the surface differences are rather due to the distinct information structures.This paper argues against this position with the data from Serbian existentials, which show clear syntactic differences from the locatives. Thus, the close relationship between existential and locative sentences that Freeze (1992) observes is conceptual, but not (necessarily) part of the syntax of the language. In order to account for the data, we propose that existential sentences originate from a different syntactic predication structure than the locative ones. The existential meaning arises, as we will show, from the interaction of this predication structure with the structure and meaning of the noun phrase.